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Faced with a projected $6.5 million deficit by the end of the year, WCA Hospital has hired a public relations firm to help boost its image in the community.

Mark Celmer, WCA president and chief executive officer, said the board of directors agreed unanimously to hire Collins & Co. to work with the marketing and community relations staff as well as the administration and board.

"Throughout the last year it has become increasingly apparent that we have to do a better job communicating the direction in which WCA is heading and the reasons behind decisions that are being made," Celmer said. "We are doing a tremendous amount of good work in our community and we need to tell that story."

Celmer said the firm will review all of WCA's communications practices with employees, medical staffers, and the general public.

"They are not going to wave a magic wand," he said. "Rather, they will provide an objective point of view and guide us in the right direction when it comes to our communication policies and practices."

Earlier this fall, members of the WCA medical staff took a vote of no confidence against Celmer.

In addition, the hospital and a group of doctors are locked in a court battle over the physicians' lease of a WCA-owned medical office building on Sherman Street.

A hearing on the lease dispute will be held in State Supreme Court in Batavia on Thursday.

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